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Kaiser Permanente Unveils Groundbreaking Genetic Research Program

Oakland, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2007)-The Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research is launching one of the largest research projects in the United States to examine the genetic and environmental factors that influence common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimers disease, asthma and many others.

The goal of the Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH) is to discover which genes and environmental factors-the air we breathe, the water we drink, as well as lifestyles and habits-are linked to specific diseases.

Researchers hope to explain how genes and environmental factors work together to influence the risk of getting a disease or affect its severity or outcome, according to program co-investigators Cathy Schaefer, PhD, director of the RPGEH and a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, and Neil Risch, PhD, director of the University of California, San Francisco Institute for Human Genetics and an adjunct investigator at Kaiser Permanente. The Research Program will also include studies of genetic and non-genetic factors that affect how people respond to specific medications, including the occurrence of side effects.

Almost all common diseases and health conditions are linked both to genetic and environmental factors, according to the researchers. Understanding the critical interaction between genes and the environment on health will have an important impact on the way all of us look at health and disease in the future, said Schaefer. For instance, our research could help us identify not only what diseases a person may be at risk for, but also identify how to reduce that risk, or how best to treat the disease. This research program provides an exciting opportunity to make significant progress toward improvements in health and medical care.

Member participation is critical to the success of the RPGEH.
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Contact: Todd Ringler
todd.ringler@edelman.com
212-704-4572
Edelman Public Relations
14-Feb-2007


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